I'm a guy that has to "have a guy" when it comes to things I need to purchase. I'm not heading blindly into a car dealership, I need to know someone. I'm not interested in walking into any auto parts store and getting the "year, make, model?" treatment from some tween when I just need a simple 12V starter relay. I need my "guy" that just knows what it is and where it is on the shelf. I couldn't stomach the idea of picking a shipper from a Google search to haul a car. It just doesn't work that way for me. I can't do it. I have to have "my guy" and feel like I'm getting the "VIP treatment" - you know, the thing we all want. The thing that used to be common place, a little thing called customer service.
So imagine my angst when there are things that are beyond my control. There are some things that I do have to wing, due to the fact that I just don't know where to start. One example of just such a situation was when it came time to have my cars insured by a dedicated specialty car insurance company. I'd had a car or two with my "regular" insurance company for quite a while, mostly due to my own laziness. I knew they probably weren't insured as well as they could have been, but for a long time I figured it was "probably good enough." Until one day I started asking them questions about my coverage. In short, I had been dodging a bullet for a long time..
It began when I tried to add a car to my policy. I wanted to make sure it was insured properly. So, I explained to my agent what the car was, the condition it was in, the amount it was worth and what I wanted to insure it for. After much debate, they told me that to get anywhere even CLOSE to where I wanted to be, I would need to provide them with receipts, dozens of photos, multiple comparables AND an appraisal from a professional antique car dealer. Huh? Not only that, they wanted the odometer reading, and reminded me that I was not to drive more than X amount of miles a year, and only to shows, or in a parade.... Give me a break.
(this is not a parade car)
I figured I'd better wise up and do a little research so I could finally get the proper coverage on these things. I started by asking around. Who were my friends using? How had their experiences been? Had they had any claims? Were they happy? Through all of these conversations, one name popped up often: Hagerty.
Here's my nickel-tour: Hagerty Insurance Agency was started in 1984 by Frank and Louise Hagerty. Initially, they sold agreed-value policies for boats. They would add antique cars to their offerings in the early 90's, and today have the ability to insure just about every kind of special interest vehicle you could dream up. They are still a family-run business to this day and it shows. What do I mean? Well, read on.
I finally picked up the phone. I don't know what I was expecting, but I guess I figured it would be the typical stuffy insurance call. The type of deal where you sit on indefinite holds, or painfully navigate an endless series of automated prompts for fifteen minutes before finally reaching a reluctant employee that seemingly drew the short straw and simply couldn't avoid having to take my call any longer. In fact I ended up with the opposite experience.
(doesn't get as much road time as the other, Hagerty has it covered either way)
Within less than one minute, I was on the phone with an actual human who cheerfully asked how they could assist me. I let her know that I was exploring the option of insuring my cars with Hagerty and asked how we should begin the process. Here's the weird part, get this guys: She seemed genuinely excited at the prospect of helping me, and even more excited that I might become a customer. Odd, I know.
So, we got the formalities out of the way: What kind of vehicles, the condition, how are they stored, what are the values, etc. She happily clicked the boxes as I answered her questions and when we came to the end of the process, gave me the bottom line. "Ok, for these vehicles, at these values, the cost would be just XXX annually." I was admittedly a little confused, the numbers seemed too good to be true. I started asking questions. "Ok, so if this happens, what happens? How does it work in this scenario? What if for some strange reason XYZ happens, what then? Am I on my own if I do this? What about that?" For every question, there was a straightforward answer that was explained clearly and honestly. By the time we got to the end of it all, I was so impressed that all I could say was, "Sign me up." Just as I was ready to read off my debit card number, it popped into my head: The one question I'd forgotten to ask... I knew it was too good to be true.. "WAIT," I said. "What are the restrictions mileage-wise? What's the limit?" I knew I had her, this was where it would all unravel.. I was glad I had caught myself before she took my payment, since this was surely the catch. Finally she explained, "We don't restrict mileage, we want you to be able to drive and enjoy your cars the way you see fit."
(still mocking this one up, but still covered)
That was my first experience with Hagerty. Needless to say I was impressed. I wondered over time if that was just an anomaly. Like maybe I had just happened to have gotten the cheeriest employee they had. Someone who happened to be in a good mood that day. Maybe I was her last call of the day. Or maybe she was that one overachiever in the office, the one that all the other employees roll their eyes at when they turn their back. Yep, that had to be it. I had gotten the one "good one" there and the next time I called I would surely get that average treatment from some reluctant bozo, anxious to get me off the phone so they could take their lunch. I thought "I should have gotten her name, she was "my guy" !"
But a funny thing happened when I called back several months later to make a change to my policy: I got an equally helpful, and genuinely nice person on that call too. And again a few weeks after that when I called to ask about race car coverage. Over the last four or so years, I can say that I have probably dealt with Hagerty on approximately ten or twelve different occasions. I can also say honestly that I have never, ever had a negative experience with them. In fact, the experiences have always been abnormally pleasant. They are prompt about sending me updated policy information when changes are made, and what they send me always reflects the details we discussed over the phone. The amount they charge me is always the amount we discuss and agree to, no bait and switch, clerical errors or other games.Their rates are competitive and the coverage they offer is outstanding. Hell, they will even insure projects. One of my cars is in 300 pieces, isn't even recognizable as a car, and they have agreed to insure it in it's current state, for the value I placed on it.
(this thing isn't even a car yet, they don't mind - still covered)
I currently have 5 cars insured with Hagerty and will be adding one more shortly, as well as a trailer. (Yeah, they do those too.) And while I have been fortunate enough to have not needed to file a claim with them, I have several close friends who have. I have asked a lot of questions about the process and have never heard anything other than that the claim was processed quickly, without hassle, and payment was made in a timely manner. One friend is in the specialty car collision business and has dealt with Hagerty on that level as well. He also reports that they are pleasant and prompt to deal with and had no complaints. (The only one he's said that about.)
Other perks thrown in are things like towing, roadside assistance, etc. which are available in varying levels, but are all reasonably priced. Their website has a lot of valuable things to offer, including articles, valuation tools and other interactive things that other companies seem to offer just to say they do, while Hagerty's actually seems thought out and useful. Even their Drivers Club Magazine is authentic and well put together. It's one of the few things I get in the mail these days that I don't just simply toss into the recycle bin.
(nostalgia drag car? no prob - covered up to the start line)
Ok, what's the bottom line? To me it's this: In a fast-paced throwaway society that has long ago chucked old school values and customer service out the window, there are still a select few companies out there that truly understand what it takes to conduct business the proper way, with genuine customer service and follow through.
So, if you're like me, one of these weirdos that needs to "have a guy," all I can tell you is that in my experience, you will find him (or her) at Hagerty.